A Baton Rouge state judge used phrases such as “the worst of the worst” and “rotten to the core” when she refused last year to alter the life prison term she had given convicted killer Michael “Marlo Mike” Louding in a 2009 murder-for-hire that rapper Torence “Lil Boosie” Hatch was acquitted of orchestrating.
A three-judge panel of the state 1st Circuit Court of Appeal said Friday it had no qualms with the harsh sentence imposed without parole by District Judge Trudy White on Louding or with her characterizations of the hit man found guilty in 2013.
“Considering the facts of the case as a whole, defendant’s history of repeated criminality and the detailed reasons for imposing the sentence, we cannot say that the trial court abused its broad sentencing discretion in imposing a sentence of life imprisonment at hard labor, without the benefit of probation, parole or suspension of sentence,” Circuit Judge John Pettigrew wrote for the panel.
Louding’s appellate attorney, Mark Plaisance, said he likely will ask the Louisiana Supreme Court to review the matter.
East Baton Rouge Parish Assistant District Attorney Dana Cummings, who prosecuted Louding, said White made a well-reasoned decision.
“Michael Louding is the worst of the worst as required by the law,” the prosecutor said.
Louding, 22, of Baton Rouge, was 17 when he fatally shot Terry Boyd through a window as Boyd sat on a sofa inside a Vermillion Drive home on Oct. 21, 2009.
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2012, a year before Louding was convicted, that states no longer can automatically sentence juveniles to life in prison without parole in murder cases without first conducting a hearing to consider the defendant’s youth, upbringing, circumstances of the crime and other factors.
The high court also suggested such sentences should be reserved for the worst of the worst.
The Louisiana Legislature responded in 2013 by approving a measure requiring a sentencing judge to hold a hearing to determine whether the life sentence should be imposed with or without parole eligibility. If imposed with such eligibility, the legislation gives incarcerated offenders a chance at freedom after serving 35 years for first- or second-degree murder.
The state law took effect in August 2013.
Louding, who was convicted of first-degree murder but was ineligible for the death penalty because of his age at the time of the crime, contends he has the capacity for rehabilitation and deserves a future shot at earning his freedom.
White disagreed, and the 1st Circuit backed her.
Louding also faced four other first-degree murder charges and a second-degree murder charge in a string of fatal shootings spanning a 14-month period starting in early 2009, but those charges were dropped after he was found guilty and sentenced to life in Boyd’s killing.
The 1st Circuit panel of Pettigrew and fellow Circuit Judges Jewel “Duke” Welch and Wayne Ray Chutz said Friday it was proper for the Louding jury to hear about several of those other crimes allegedly committed by him because some were “remarkably similar” to the facts in the Boyd case in that they were ambush crimes.
Hatch, 32, was charged with first-degree murder in Boyd’s slaying but was found not guilty in 2012 in a high-profile trial. He was released from the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola last year after serving time for marijuana possession.
Prosecutors maintain Louding killed Boyd at Hatch’s behest, and they say Louding confessed to doing so. They also contend Louding lied when he testified at Hatch’s trial that he and Hatch played no role in Boyd’s death. Louding did not testify at his own trial.
A jailed Louding wrote Hatch a letter in April 2013, saying, “I miss them good ol days. … I wish I was still in that world to lay the law down.” The letter was introduced by Cummings at Louding’s sentencing.
Another Baton Rouge man, Adrian Pittman, 41, pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the Boyd case and was sentenced to 20 years in prison. Pittman did not testify at Hatch’s trial, but he told the jury in Louding’s case he dropped Louding off near Boyd’s home and then acted as the getaway driver.